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Changing Contexts, Shifting MeaningsTransformations of Cultural Traditions in Oceania$
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Elfriede Hermann

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780824833664

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824833664.001.0001

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Social Mimesis, Commemoration, and Ethnic Performance

Social Mimesis, Commemoration, and Ethnic Performance

Fiji Banaban Representations of the Past

(p.174) Social Mimesis, Commemoration, and Ethnic Performance
Changing Contexts, Shifting Meanings

Wolfgang Kempf

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter explores how memory is created by social mimesis. It looks at mimetic practices among the Banabans, a people originally from the island of Banaba in the central Pacific but relocated to Fiji in 1945. How social mimesis plays out is exemplified by ethnic performances, in which the actors embody memories. This thesis is illustrated in terms of the dance theater, specifically a play enacting the Banabans' own conversion to Christianity. In it, the memory of this event, the island of origin, and the ancestral goddess—all three—are kept alive. In reflecting on the transformation of religion, one finds a historicity being manifested that articulates, at once, sharp rupture and powerful continuity.

Keywords:   Banabans, Banaba, mimetic practice, memory, social mimesis, ethnic performance, dance theater, plays

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